A meeting with Neil Harbisson
I was 3 minutes late for my meeting with Neil… I spotted him from the other side of the street by the pedestal clock of flatiron district, it seam he was precisely on time…
Make time a sense, not information
We talked a lot about time and about what time meant for us. I talked about my project and Neil talked about his idea, and in a very synchronized way we both try to do basically the same thing – reach a lower level of consciousness through a continues stimuli, persistent until the brain will accept the stimulus as the notion of time. Make time a sense, not information.
Beyond that point of innately knowing time, we would be able to then augment it, or our perception of it. Neil even refers to actual time travel. As he could change his perception of color by tapping in to his device and changing some parameters in the ‘antenna’, he would be able to change the perception of time.
I asked Neil about his relationship with time, he said it is of more interest to him then the perception of color through sound (which is what he is known for). Neil sees himself as ‘time fanatic’, and he is obsessed with time. From childhood he had a different perspective of it. Neil sees remembering and predicting the same thing. As a kid he would have flashes he perceived as the future, like remembering the future instead of the past, which reminded me of the book Einstein dream and so I decided to get him that book. Neil says he is very good in estimation of time – he is never late but also not early.
We spoke about autism and time perception, some researches connect the syndrome to the ability to synchronize stimuli (i.e. a visual and a sound that don’t match or match even though they happen separately) and how he believes to have a minor case of it and that is one of his layers of connections to time.
“What if schools taught about how to feel time, would have exams about it without any clocks?” Neil proposed. “Children will learn time like they learn color…”
The rotation of earth
I asked Neil what he thinks would be the consequences if this experiment succeeds – he believes that knowing time in such deep way would give a sense of security. When people check their watches it is an expression of insecurity.
As Neil travels a lot he often suffers from jet-legs and is interested to see if this device can affect that. This is also a reason why he wants pattern of stimuli to be connected to the rotation of earth related to the sun.
Adapting to a new sense
It took Neil 5 month to learn the meanings of the sounds and have a direct correspond to color. In order to adapt to a new sense it must be consistent and permanent otherwise every time you take it off its like a reseat. Neil used cards with colors and names as he had no understanding of color and needed to refer to it somehow. Like learning a new language.
“I want to take Einstein theory and Dali painting to a practice” Neil Harbisson.
MRI scan – Neil believes his brain has changed since the implant but there is no way for him to prove it. He took an MRI test one time sponsored by a TV show but that was a few years after the implant. A scan of the before and after of his brain would be a major step stone to cyborgism.
We spoke about the earlier researches about time were all consisting of drug usage, but now through technology (what Neil refers to as Cyborgism) we can alter our perception in new ways that do not require chemicals. Interestingly, Neil is thinking about a crown (rather then my sleeve idea). The stimuli suggested corresponds the “Moving point” sequence of the sleeve.
An interesting idea Neil had was to train an ant to walk on him depending on the time. it would be “Time tickle”.. But the use of animals is not an option for Neil.
“if trump become president I will move somewhere else.”
We need to find a doctor who would write a paper on it
As a cyborg, Neil is seeing this (eventually) applied as an implant rather then “just” a wearable. For many different reasons people have been injecting silicon under the skin for years and this is the same area Neil would want to exploit. We discussed the interesting problem of providing energy to any device implanted – in Moon’s work her implant is a magnet that needs very low levels of energy and is connected to the phone to receive the data via wifi and without the phone the device would not work. Some solutions are still too advanced like using the blood stream to move a micro turbine that will supply the necessary power needed.
One idea mentioned was the use temperature. A band of lights (LED that emit heat) which will move like an animation instead of mechanical movement.
We spoke about why the unit of minutes and how the rotation vs patterns may solve the problem of resolution and the brain will learn to go to the right resolution. “We would need to find a doctor that would like to take part in the experiment, he write a paper about it, and his hospital will fund MRI scanning.”
Neil suggested a collaboration in the making and in the experimenting of the devices. “If we both wear the devices we can keep separate diaries to later compare our findings, the Cyborg foundation will support the project and publish it and the company Cyborg Nest may even help with the sponsoring” said Neil. And this is how it all begun…